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The Young Knives - Voices of Animals and Men

The Young Knives, Voices of Animals and Men

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

THE Young Knives are cutting quite a reputation for themselves. Hailed by many as Britain’s brightest new band, they have catapulted themselves into the limelight off the back of their anthemic Weekends And Bleak Days (Hot Summer), which features the blisteringly memorable opening line “hot summer, what a bummer”.

That single was released as part of an EP that showed glimpses of a great band waiting to emerge. The subsequent album Voices Of Animals and Men maintains the optimism surrounding them without necessarily delivering the great album that many predicted.

Occasionally, it’s great especially when showcasing the more sensitive and mature side of the Oxford-based trio – but too often it falls into the jerky, manic disco-punk style of Hot Summer and feels like a riot of energy gone waywardly out of control.

What’s beyond doubt, however, is that The Young Knives (aka brothers Henry Dartnall, House of Lords and Oliver Askew), can certainly deliver highly detailed insights into England that recall tales of skiving off work, coastguads and tailors, fighting with your girlfriends’ parents and committing suicide in Loughborough.
At its best it recalls the vibrant energy of early Blur (especially in some of the guitar riffs) as well as the classic values of The Kinks and the quirky energy of Pulp. At its worst, it careers dangerously out of control.

She’s Attracted To is a particular case in point, a loud, frenzied, thrown together mess of a song that’s based around arguing with a girlfriend’s parents – “who are these people, they’re too stupid to be your parents”. With its chant-along chorus and off-kilter vocal style, its a disco-punk hybrid that’s a complete turn-off.

The same raw, jagged punk vocal histrionics are evident on Here Comes The Rumour Mill which again lacks the finesse the band is clearly capable of.

Far better are tracks like Another Hollow Line which catch you off guard with both their enchanting melodies and more restrained vocal style – such songs are sung, rather than shouted, and benefit from a stronger sense of structure and cohesion. The chorus, in particular, is reminiscent of the solo work of Graham Coxon.
The similarly slow-building final track Tremblings of Trails is another firm album highlight that ends the long-player on a genuinely pleasing note, hinting at much brighter things ahead.

That’s not to say the album works only when exercising restraint – gutsier numbers such as Hot Summer and Coastguard emerge as rousing as they were intended to be. Vocally, they’re more punky and far more edgy but somehow they work better in tandem with the stronger, more strutured guitar riffs.

The Decision is another good example of The Young Knives getting it right – lively, upbeat, vocally off-kilter but layered, busy and shifting enough to keep you on your toes.

Listening to the band in recent interviews concerning both the release of their album and their festival appearance at V, they don’t appear to be short on confidence. But while their undoubtedly a talented trio, they could deal with a little more sharpness and cut out some of the wilder extravagances on this album.

Track listing:

  1. Part Timer
  2. Decision
  3. Weekends And Bleak Days (Hot Summer)
  4. In The Pink
  5. Mystic Energy
  6. Here Comes The Rumour Mill
  7. Tailors
  8. Half Timer
  9. She’s Attracted To
  10. Dialing Darling
  11. Another Hollow Line
  12. Coastguard
  13. Loughborough Suicide
  14. Tremblings Of Trails